From Coast to Coast

Friday, May 22, 2015

A mom's journey from the wildly beautiful Pacific Northwest to the historic countryside of Normandy...

Sunlight streams through the open windows of this 1600's farmhouse situated in the beautiful countryside of Normandy on the northwest coast of France, home to Cat Bude, her husband and three children. A writer and photographer working for a museum design firm, Cat was swept off her feet twenty years ago by "French Guy," as she calls him, in a Los Angeles dog park, and, six months later they were married. Their initial years of marriage were spent moving about to various places in the Pacific Northwest where they owned a bed and breakfast in Port Townsend, Washington, followed by a move to Bainbridge Island where they opened a French Antiques business. The birth of their second child brought a tremendous change to their lives when their son was diagnosed with autism at age 20 months.

A firm believer in the providential hand of God, Cat relied on her faith, a support group of fellow moms with autistic children and a strong network of family and friends to get her through those difficult years.  But when the economy plunged in 2008, and their business and marriage along with it, her husband initiated the biggest change of their lives to date - a move to his home in France.

Cat - vintage seller, mom, wife, foodie, photographer, writer.
In 2010, the Budes uprooted their small family from the island community they had come to love and headed off to the French countryside where, in 2013, they found their current home. Life in France has not been an easy adjustment for Cat, who misses her family and friends, but bringing new life to this old chateau has been helpful in making her feel she has truly found home.

With the addition of her online vintage pop-up shop, Sunday Brocantes, which takes place on the first two days of each month, Cat has found added fulfillment to her life in this new country. The shop includes her homemade soaps with lavender from the garden, vintage linens, and a delightful array of flea market finds from shopping trips around the country.

Their 17th century farmhouse, overrun with legions of rabbits when they first discovered it in 2013, has been appropriately named Maison Rabbit Hill.  
And for dinner tonight - mussels fresh from the coast.
A herd of neighboring cows graze on Rabbit Hill's 19 acres of protected farmland.

Baguettes are a staple on any proper French woman's table, along with a beautiful bouquet of roses from the garden.

A fresh batch of soap awaits packaging for the pop-up shop.

This counter, these cutting boards, that display rack -- a dream cooking space.

Cat hosts vintage shopping tours throughout the year and entertains patrons in this beautiful dining room where fine French wines make an appearance alongside an assortment of cheese from the fromager.

A lovely old table found at a flea market is perfect for an outdoor dinner.
And for fancy holiday meals, the library creates the perfect atmosphere for a proper French feast: poached fish with cream sauce, lemon herbed rice, salads, and of course a selection of cheese and tarts.
Lucky finds from a flea market venture in Amiens.
Some vintage finds for Sunday Brocantes, 

This classic French apron and assortment of kitchen linens are regular finds in Sunday Brocantes.

Ruling the roost (and providing eggs for a family of five).

Ready for market.

Fete du fromage yields a lovely assortment of cheese. Here, fabulous brebis.
So many varieties of pepper!  Now that's something to sneeze about!
The youngest of their three children, this one is Cat's helper in the kitchen.

A rainbow of hope and promise over the lovely old barn at Rabbit Hill where King Charles Spaniels loll in the grass and cats stretch in the warm sunshine while chickens cluck and ornery goats frolic about looking for mischief.

At the start of last week I had both an abundance of vegetables from the market and a lack of time to plan extravagant meals to use them. I was looking for a way to use them all and save valuable time making meals the rest of the week. The result, was a tray of delicious roasted vegetables, and three delicious meals after, and extra minutes to do all of the other things on my busy schedule.

Step 1:  Clean up and slice vegetables. I used yellow peppers, red onion, fennel, leeks, carrots, zucchini and egg plant. Place on a tray and add a generous amount of olive oil and sprinkle with Rabbit Hill 'Sel de Mer aux Herbes - Mediterranean' blend which features Herves de Provence and sun-dried tomato. Roast in the oven for just under an hour (watch to make sure they don't get too brown or dry) at 350 - 400 max (180C-200C). Cool, cover and put away for future use.

Three meals...

Recipe #1: Pasta with roasted veggies

Make any kind of pasta. Grill turkey or chicken breast strips and toss chopped roasted veggies with the grilled poultry and the cooked pasta. You can add pesto, chopped herbs, feta or grated cheese.

Recipe #2: Top a pre-made crust with roasted veggies, fresh basil and goat cheese. Add capers, olives, pepper flakes. Cook based on the crust's normal directions.

Recipe #3: Layer all of the remaining vegetables in an oven-proof dish. Top with cheese (I used feta) and six beaten eggs. Cook at 350F (180C) for 25-30 minutes depending on how deep your dish is.

All of these meals were easy and yummy and took just minutes. And the best part was using all of the vegetables from the market and nothing went to waste.

Market-fresh vegetables ready to roast in the oven.

For more information on Rabbit Hill and Sunday Brocantes, visit
Her self-published book on autism, Leo Dances, is available through Blurb Books.


  1. Beautiful! Cat you are a woman filled with courage & a sense of Grand Adventure. You possess what we say in Finnish is "sisu"- guts.